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Ahead of UFC 172 fight, Anthony Johnson talks growth

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Anthony Johnson [R] says he's more mature heading into UFC 172. (Getty Images)

Back in 2012, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson was set to fight Vitor Belfort when he missed weight, again, badly. Johnson had repeatedly struggled and failed to make the welterweight limit prior and moved up to middleweight to try and make the weight cut more doable.

Johnson's body refused him, however, and he missed weight by over ten pounds against Belfort. Then, Johnson went out and lost in the first round to "The Phenom."

Johnson was immediately cut from the UFC. Since that time, Johnson has fought and won six times, at heavyweight and light heavyweight. On Saturday, he makes his return to the UFC in the UFC 172 co-main event against Phil Davis.

Johnson recently spoke with the Las Vegas Review Journal about his first UFC run with regret. The fighter wasn't big on specifics but emphasized his growth over the past couple years.

“I was young and stupid," Johnson said.

"Plain and simple. Stupid in the cage, stupid out of the cage. I was just stupid back then. I was just making dumb choices and not doing things the way I needed to. Just young and dumb and not caring as much as I should have. I can’t say I didn’t care because I did care. But my head just wasn’t completely in it.

“When I was first in UFC I was just an athlete that didn’t know much and was just relying on natural ability to get by. Now, I’m someone who actually loves the sport. It was fun back then, but it’s more fun now. I had to mature.”

Johnson said that, ultimatey, he was forced to grow or fail in his career.

“I finally hit the wall where I had no choice but to grow," he went on.

"Everybody has to go through that in their life. Every man has been through that point in their life where they think they know everything. You just have to hit that wall where you just realize I don’t know everything, and that’s when you start accepting things and become willing to expand your mind and learn.”

The thirty year-old never held a grudge against the UFC for releasing him and also never fixated on making a return to the promotion.

“I don’t blame UFC and Dana for cutting me. They did what they had to do and I respect that," he said.

 

“I haven’t thought about a second chance...I kinda just went with the flow of life, and if it happened, it happened, and if it didn’t, it didn’t. I didn’t put all my eggs in the basket of getting back here. I was focused on performing for whoever I was working for at the time.”

Now, he's working with the UFC once more with a huge opportunity in his return match. Are you looking forward to seeing what "Rumble" can do in the UFC's light heavyweight division?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

 

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